There are few things more difficult to understand than the sexual victimization of a child. These crimes are committed by both family members and strangers and range from inappropriate touching to sexual assault and rape. Although sexual abuse of youth is not a new problem, access to the Internet and the proliferation of communications technology have changed the way predators target youth and changed the kinds of risks youth face.
Since the early 1990s, the registration of sex offenders and public notification of their presence in communities have emerged as important tools for monitoring convicted sex offenders and preventing their continued victimization of others. In 2006, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (AWA), which strengthened federal laws to protect children and vulnerable adults from sexual and other violent crimes, prevent child pornography, and make the Internet safer for children.
Title I of the Act, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), provides a comprehensive set of minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification in the United States. SORNA aims to close potential gaps and loopholes that existed under previous law and generally strengthens the nationwide network of sex offender registration and notification programs.
Section 146 of AWA established the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART Office), which oversees and supports the nation's efforts to improve sex offender registration and management. Located in the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, the SMART Office
For more information on the SMART Office, visit its Web site.